Can a church be liable for personal injury? 25 Answers as of June 26, 2013

Two members of a church were assaulted and robbed as they walked from the church's parking lot to the church building. The contracted, armed security guard did not get to the incident in time to prevent the assailants from taking the purses of the members and causing minor physical injuries to one of the members. There are 2 other areas around the church (but not owned by the church) where parishioners park. The security guard was watching a non-church-owned area, per the arrangement with the church for their duties. The member is contending that the security guard did not do their job and is demanding monetary reimbursement for personal property lost.

Ask a Local Attorney. 100% Anonymous. Free Answers.

Free Case Evaluation by a Local Lawyer: Click here
The Law Office of Josh Lamborn, P.C.
The Law Office of Josh Lamborn, P.C. | Josh Lamborn
That sounds like a difficult case for a plaintiff to win to me. Whether the church will be found liable is a question of fact that can only be determined by a jury. It will depend on the contract with the security company, what they were told to do and why, whether parishioners usually parked in the other lots and if it was reasonable for the church to task the security company to watch those lots as well. It will also be determined by whether the church had a duty to protect the parishioners at all. Did they have knowledge that this was a problem in the area? Did the hiring of security impliedly promise that the parishioners would be protected?
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 7/27/2011
Ewusiak & Roberts, P.A.
Ewusiak & Roberts, P.A. | Christopher J. Roberts
Yes, you can hold a church liable for negligent security. Most churches carry insurance for such things, just like any business or individual property owner. If the church knew of a need for security but failed to provide adequate protection, the injured parties could recover compensation for their injuries.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 2/20/2012
Harris Personal Injury Lawyer
Harris Personal Injury Lawyer | Philip C. Alexander
This question deals with whether the church can be held liable for the criminal acts of third parties that occur on or near its property. These types of cases are driven by the specific facts as the general rule is that a landlord/property owner owes a duty to tenants/patrons to take reasonable steps to protect the property/premises against foreseeable acts of third parties. If the church had knowledge of prior criminal acts, etc., it would likely have to hire security guards to monitor the premises. Here, a security guard was actually near the premises, but did not arrive in time, and was allegedly hired to watch certain non-owned church properties. You should consult with an attorney further regarding the specific facts of this case. If you are only seeking property damage and not bodily injury, you could always do so in small claims, depending on the amount of damage. You should consider adding the security guard/company as a defendant.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 7/25/2011
Dwyer, Black & Lyle, LLP
Dwyer, Black & Lyle, LLP | Kevin Habberfield
A church can be responsible for personal injuries like anyone else. What you are describing is a negligent security/supervision type case. Typically, a person/entity only has a duty to protect others from the criminal acts of a third person if it is foreseeable that those acts would occur. Meaning, someone does not have a duty to predict/protect against the wrongdoing of another unless they have a reason to know or suspect it will occur. If there are a lot of robberies/thefts at this church in the past (which is possible since they have security), you may have a case but, these cases are difficult. Consult a personal injury attorney in your area immediately. Good luck.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 7/25/2011
Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A.
Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A. | Paul L. Whitfield
You would have to prove the security was inadequate. For a small claim you probably dont want to sue the church
Answer Applies to: North Carolina
Replied: 7/25/2011
    Law Office of Ronald Arthur Lowry
    Law Office of Ronald Arthur Lowry | Ronald Arthur Lowry
    Yes, a church can be sued and so can the security company. The standard would be ordinary negligence.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 7/25/2011
    Dearbonn Law Offices
    Dearbonn Law Offices | Ajibola Oluyemisi Oladapo
    The Security guard is employed by the church and is therefore an agent of the church. As such , the church is liable for the security guard's failure and/or omission to act, causing the theft and injuries.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    Patrick M Lamar Attorney
    Patrick M Lamar Attorney | Patrick M Lamar
    This would really be the liability of the security company. But, if the church was controlling their actions in some way you might be able to get around the independent contractor problems. The church has no per se immunity but security cases are very hard to win.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    Law Office of Dewey N. Hayes, Jr., PC
    Law Office of Dewey N. Hayes, Jr., PC | Dewey N. Hayes
    First decide if & what is the suable entity ? Is church incorporated ? Is church ultimately responsible under agency theories for negligence ? Were the 2 members in such leadership positions in church that the church is immune or lit is not allowed ? Lots of legal questions . need to retain a trial lawyer in your area that is member of AAJ,GTLA or NTLA .
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    Kelaher Law Offices, P.A.
    Kelaher Law Offices, P.A. | James P Kelaher
    Churches do not have immunity from claims, but in order to successfully bring such a claim as you describe, I believe you would need to hire an expert to testify about negligent security, and if you're only talking about property taken, it doesn't sound to me like your damages would be worth the investment on the part of the attorney who would handle the claim.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    Bernard Huff, Attorney/Mediator
    Bernard Huff, Attorney/Mediator | Bernard Huff
    Yes, if the church was negligent. Consult with a personal injury attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    Law Office of Mark J. Leonardo
    Law Office of Mark J. Leonardo | Mark Leonardo
    Yes the land owner can be held liable if other crimes were known to occur in the area and it failed to provide adequate security. If all this is about is the value of the contents of the purse, the landowner should pay for it to avoid the expense of litigation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    Lyle B. Masnikoff and Associates
    Lyle B. Masnikoff and Associates | Lyle B. Masnikoff
    It's definately possible but need more details
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    It sounds to me like his claim should be against the security company. But, the answer is yes, the church can be liable. That's why you have insurance. Make sure to notify you insurance company of a possible claim to protect your coverage.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    Joel H. Schwartz, P.C.
    Joel H. Schwartz, P.C. | Steven A. Schwartz
    The simple answer is "yes." However, proving this type of case is not always easy. One must show that there was a duty to protect patrons in the parking lot. I am not sure that a church has that obligation necessarily. Typically you see negligent security cases at places like shopping malls. Assuming you could show this obligation, you must then show that the security guard was, in fact, negligent. Just because the guard was not in the area at the time does not create wrongdoing. If the event took a long time, and one could establish that the guard had time to get to the area but did not, then there may be a claim.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 7/23/2011
    Kirshner & Groff
    Kirshner & Groff | Richard M. Kirshner
    Speak to a lawyer
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 7/23/2011
    Law Offices of Steven A. Fink
    Law Offices of Steven A. Fink | Steven Alan Fink
    A church can be liable for personal injuries sustained by parishioner's in the parking lot. Issue becomes whether the area was known by church to be dangerous and whether security was adequate.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/23/2011
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    Probably not a very good case against the church, but certainly ripe for restitution against the assailants.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/23/2011
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    Interesting situation. Under some circumstances there could be liability for the church and the security company. The possibility of liability depends greatly upon facts not presented.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/23/2011
    Allen Murphy Law
    Allen Murphy Law | W. Riley Allen
    You can, but the issue will be whether the security in place was reasonable as there is no requirement to have it at all. The damages here are also minor, thus, I would try to work it out with the church.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 7/23/2011
    Law Office of Travis Prestwich, PC
    Law Office of Travis Prestwich, PC | Travis Prestwich
    It is possible you could have a claim against the Church if it failed to provide adequate security and their were known risks to parishoners. This case is one in which an attorney would need to know more of the facts to determine how strong a case you may have.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 7/23/2011
    Rose, Senders & Bovarnick, LLC
    Rose, Senders & Bovarnick, LLC | Paul S. Bovarnick
    A church can be liable the same as any other actor. So the answer to your question is "yes."
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 7/23/2011
Click to View More Answers:
12 3 4 Free Legal QuestionsConnect with a local attorney